Typically, all it takes to get a game lover interested in a new game is a glowing review from another game junkie – that’s it, they’re sold! A while back, I raved about Apples to Apples to my sister so she bought a copy and when it came time for her to buy a gift for my party game-loving aunt, she bought her a copy too. Normally, I would expect excitement since this game was coming to her so highly recommended, but she didn’t seem excited. Now, maybe it was the young sounding name or the bright red box that she didn’t immediately embrace, but we assured her it was a great game and awaited her review.
I love games and recommend a lot of games to friends and family, but it’s not like I’ve never met a game I didn’t like. Sadly, I’ve come across far too many that I found painfully dull. I give a pretty fair shake to any game that crosses my path; ones with weird names, dry themes, strange artwork – it’s all out there, but it’s the essence of the game that counts. I have to WANT to play it – and once I’ve finished, I have to want to play it again. And in that area, Apples to Apples gets very high marks.
So a couple months after Apples to Apples traveled from the Chicago birthday party back to my aunt’s home in Madison, I received a glowing review of the game in my inbox. While I wondered why it had taken so long for her to play it, it was apparent it had immediately gained an important position on her game shelf.
For an adult with a circle of friends who love party games, I was astonished to hear that no one in the group had ever played it before. For just about $20, it really is a party in a box – and a heavy box at that since the game is made up of pounds and pounds of cards. Most of the cards are random words ranging from “Sunday Drivers” to “Angry Hornets” to “Televangelists” to “Loan Sharks” but a smaller number of cards are adjectives like “Industrious” and “Explosive.”
The game is simple: one player reads an adjective card like “Cuddly” and then players toss a word card from their hand that best fits the description into a pile. Cards like “Napoleon Bonaparte,” “Meat Cleavers,” “Leeches” and “Firefighters” will be lobbed into the pile and then it’s up to the adjective reader to determine which card best fits the round’s adjective. Personally, I don’t find meat cleavers cuddly at all, I wouldn’t want to cuddle with the diminutive military leader Napoleon Bonaparte and while leeches do cuddle up to you, my vote is still for firefighters since I’m dating one.
Part of the humor comes from the limited number of cards in your hand. Because you’re only allowed five word cards at a time, you may have to decide whether to play “James Bond,” “Root Beer Floats” or “Stonehenge” for the adjective card “Legendary.” Overall, it ends up being a hilarious mish mash of very literal to extremely funny interpretations of the adjective. In the end, the winner is the player who has their word cards chosen the most times.
Forget strategy, calculating odds or an enormous lexicon, this game is easy for anyone to play – even those “non-game” friends. And believe it or not, this game has been on the market long enough to sell over a million copies and proving that great games never die, Mattel just purchased it from the company that made it what it is today, Out of the Box games. So this gem of a game will be on all mass market shelves for hopefully years to come, but definitely through this next holiday season.
And for all of you who want to know what took my aunt so long to play it – I asked – she said she was terrified by the number of cards. Apparently, there was a bit of mental scarring after a five hour Trivial Pursuit marathon she experience just before she received the game. Just goes to show you should never judge a game by its piece count!
Apples to Apples stats: